Heavyweight Bout: Alistair Overeem (45-18) vs. Walt Harris (13-7)
Luke Irwin: Jesus Christ, who the fuck would want to be Overeem for this? The UFC has been running vignettes about the tragic murder of Walt Harris’s stepdaughter, and how this is his redemption arc, and how he’ll honor her by ascending to the top of the division by using her for inspiration…and then there’s Overeem, who has the unenviable task of trying to turn this guy’s damned lights off! He’s an unwitting heel, and Overeem, being a generally decent dude, probably doesn’t want to be in this spot. But, the job calls, and Overeem, owner of nearly 80 professional fights between MMA and kickboxing, is business-like and can approach this without emotion. Luckily for Harris, Overeem is a pretty damned-good fighter for him to take on. He’s a big name, and also pretty chinny. Picking with my heart, here, but I’ll always bet against Overeem’s chin. Harris via R1 KO.
Women’s Strawweight Bout: Angela Hill (12-7) vs. Claudia Gadelha (17-4)
Luke: Don’t look now, but Angela’s won three in a row. This is most-likely her gatekeeper fight, a win over Claudia Gadelha, a feat accomplished by only Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Nina Ansaroff, and Jessica Andrade, puts her directly into the title picture. However, there’s a reason Gadelha is probably the best women’s strawweight ever to never be world champion. We know the M.O., she’s going to ugly it up and use her strength and base to push her opponent where she wants to go (usually against the fence), and even for how decent Hill’s striking is, I don’t think she has the strength to avoid Gadelha muscling her around. Gadelha via UD.
Featherweight Bout: Dan Ige (13-2) vs. Edson Barboza (20-8)
Luke: Another gatekeeper bout, here. Ige is coming off of two close decision wins over Kevin Aguilar and Mirsad Bektic, and now it’s time to show something. Barboza is a stopper that has literally kicked the high hopes off of many an up-and-comer, and I don’t think Ige’s style translates into being able to negate Barboza’s length and striking, as he has four inches both in height and reach on Ige. Barboza via UD.
Middleweight Bout: Eryk Anders (13-4) vs. Krzysztof Jotko (21-4)
Luke: Anders looks like he’s finally at home at middleweight after bouncing between 185 and light heavyweight, and I like this matchup for him. Jotko struggles against bigger, strong middleweights who can ground him, and that’s where Anders’s game lies. Anders via R2 TKO.
Featherweight Bout: Yadong Song (15-4-1) vs. Marlon Vera (15-5-1)
Luke: Vera’s on a very quiet five-fight winning streak, and all via finish. Vera’s a very well-rounded fighter that’s fighting at the highest level of his career. Song is a huge bantamweight with thunder in his hands. Definite favorite for FOTN, here. Only one stoppage loss between them, and they’re both solid enough on the ground and technical enough in striking that I don’t think they’ll let themselves get in too much trouble, but I do think we see fifteen minutes of fireworks with the occasional sub attempt or scramble thrown in for good measure. Yadong via SD.